Death for 50 Rupees

PhotographerEnrico Fabian
PrizePress / Feature Story
Entry Description

“I smoked heroin for a long, long time but since two years I only inject the stuff from the pharmacies. It’s cheaper and somehow the same”, said Darminder, his clothes and body marked by an endless seeming life on the street, his eyes sad and tired by years of constant pharmaceutical drug abuse. A few hours later the 17-year-old boy from Bihar was dead. In an argument about money for more drugs he was brutally beaten by false friends and was left to die in a dirty alley next to a waste picker colony. The police later had him dumped at the local hospital’s morgue and he, as many others, disappeared far before his time. As many others Darminder eventually became a victim of a medicine actually produced for a different purpose; to ease pain, to heal, to help people. India, also known as the pharmacy of the Third World, is one of the biggest producers of generic drugs worldwide. The vast variety of up to standard and most importantly affordable pharmaceuticals gives millions of people the chance to treat their illnesses. But the lack of trade monitoring, the cover-up through corruption and the ignorance and greed of the pharmacists have also gotten these medicines into the wrong hands. In Jahangirpuri, a colony on the outskirts of New Delhi, the consequences of this greed for money by shameless businessmen have led to a catastrophic situation. One just has to pass by at one of the many pharmacies in the area. The medicine, not supposed to be given to anyone without prescription from a doctor. An ampule of a semi-synthetic opioid, an ampule benzodiazepine derivative drug, an ampule antihistamine which lessens the side effects of the other drugs and two disposable syringes are sold for 50 Rupees, a little less than 1 USD.